NetApp Tech OnTap

The Buzz from VMworld Europe 2008

VMworld Europe 2008 in Cannes, France, was the first-ever VMworld conference in Europe, and it exceeded all expectations. According to French fire code, the venue held a maximum of 4,500 people, but an additional 1,500 people struggled to cycle through the event.

As a result of the steady traffic, the NetApp team was able to take the pulse of the crowd. Now that many IT shops have significant experience with virtualized servers, two major new themes emerged:

  • A growing interest in IP-based storage, sparked by the search for the next area for cost cutting
  • Data management—new tools are needed to manage data in virtual environments, and this need will increase as virtualization continues to grow


Because you’re a Tech OnTap member, we’re pleased to bring you the latest updates from the show, including early access to many of the new technical reports and demos that NetApp featured at VMworld.

IP-Based Storage

The identification of underutilized physical servers led to the adoption of server virtualization within the enterprise. If you virtualized your server infrastructure, you probably reduced your total server count and increased server utilization; you may have also virtualized your storage environment for similar benefits.
Many of the visitors to our VMworld booth were looking for new areas within their IT infrastructures in which they could further optimize and cut costs, and many seem to have concluded that storage networks are the next area they should address.
Most people continue to believe that Fibre Channel offers the best possible storage network performance and like their FC SANs, but they have observed that per-port utilization rates for VMware® hosts are typically low—presenting an opportunity to improve efficiency.
IP-based storage infrastructures such as iSCSI and NAS serve the same functions as an FC SAN, but the IP infrastructure is considerably less expensive, IP networking expertise is more widespread, and technologies such as NAS offer significantly simpler data management.
The potential synergy between NAS running NFS and VMware is starting to be appreciated as IT groups discover that NFS can reduce complexity, simplify management, and accelerate recovery in virtual environments.
Because both NetApp and VMware support many storage protocols, including Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NFS, we allow you to choose the technology that best addresses your needs. NetApp is the only storage vendor that supports all these protocols on a single storage platform, so we can help you make solid decisions today without locking you into a storage architecture. Many of the resources provided in section 3 can help you understand your deployment options when choosing a storage infrastructure for VMware.

Data Management

Now that most IT groups are comfortable with the basics of the virtual infrastructure, the next frontier is data management for this infrastructure. A lot of new tools are out there to help with a variety of VMware management issues, including migration, data protection, and provisioning.
At the NetApp booth we highlighted the efficiency and economy of our approach to data management in VMware environments. NetApp can provide production storage, local backup, a remote copy of your full VMware environment, and a remote backup history—using the same amount of storage that most vendors would need for production storage alone.
(We provide links to technology demonstrations and other technical resources relevant to the following discussion in section 3.)
  • Data deduplication. Our solution starts with NetApp® deduplication, which eliminates the redundant data that is inherent in virtual server environments—reducing your production footprint by an average of 50% to 70%. (A recent issue of Tech OnTap was devoted to the use of deduplication with VMware.) The cost savings that result from data deduplication can actually finance additional elements of your virtual infrastructure—elements you might not otherwise be able to afford.
  • Local data protection. The next element of our solution is SnapManager® for Virtual Infrastructure. This product provides policy-driven backups and automates the recovery and replication of virtual machines. By combining application backups for many common applications, such as Microsoft® Exchange, SQL Server™, and others, NetApp enables the virtual infrastructure to scale beyond today’s limits without eating up server resources and bandwidth.
  • Data protection for storage other than from NetApp. Open Systems SnapVault® is a disk-to-disk backup solution that can protect virtual infrastructures on storage not from NetApp. It moves data incrementally in very small chunks (4KB data blocks), making it especially suitable for remote offices with slow network connections.

    With Open Systems SnapVault 2.6, there are two ways to back up and recover a virtual machine:
    • You can install Open Systems SnapVault on any virtual machine and back it up just as you would a physical server.
    • You can install it in the ESX Server Service Console.

A new technical report, exclusive to Tech OnTap readers, provides the details.

  • Disaster recovery. Maintaining redundant applications is often impractical. While server virtualization simplifies the server side of business continuity, the cost of storage can still be a financial hurdle. The savings realized by NetApp data deduplication can finance the remote storage required for disaster recovery. For the same amount of storage you would otherwise need to run production, NetApp gives you production, local backup, and remote storage.

    Using SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure you can manage your replication schedules as well as your local backups. When you replicate your production environment using NetApp SnapMirror managed by SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure, you also replicate the backups of your production environment. If a single virtual machine (VM) fails, you can restore it quickly using SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure.
  • VMware Site Recovery Manager (SRM). For site failures that impact many VMs, you can restore services simply with VMware SRM, an integrated site- failover solution that leverages NetApp SnapMirror® and other capabilities to automate recovery of your virtual data center. VMware—which had by far the largest booth of all participants at VMworld—featured NetApp as their exclusive storage partner for their Site Recovery Manager demos and as the storage provider for their Hands-On lab sessions. In fact, NetApp’s storage was the only storage displayed in the VMware booth.

Many of the people we talked to at VMworld suggested that thus far they’ve only virtualized about 20% of what they have targeted. By leveraging NetApp’s unique approach to data management for virtual infrastructures, many believe they can convert anywhere from 60% to 90% of their physical servers.

More on Site Recovery Manager

Because SRM was such a hot topic at this VMworld, we want to say a few more words about it. SRM has three components: discovery/setup, failover, and test. One of the most powerful benefits of SRM is that it allows you to preprogram your disaster response.
Powering hundreds of servers up or down can be a challenge, especially in the middle of a crisis. The recovery plan that is created during the setup phase of SRM configuration allows you to preconfigure everything:

  • Which machines to bring up
  • Who to notify
  • Specific steps to take
  • The allocation of appropriate CPU/memory
  • Which specific port groups and VLANs to bring online

Creating this type of plan normally takes months, even years. Because of its discovery capabilities and close integration with Virtual Center, SRM allows you to create the plan in a short period and allows you to execute the plan flawlessly with minimal user intervention. NetApp has worked closely with VMware to ensure that SRM is able to leverage the unique features of NetApp storage in all phases of operation. For instance, SnapMirror provides fast and efficient data replication to your remote site; NetApp cloning is used during SRM testing so that tests are nondisruptive and don’t require huge amounts of additional storage.

VMworld Europe Resources

Featured Technology Demonstrations

  • SnapManager for Virtual Infrastructure (SMVI)
    • Backup and recovery with minimal infrastructure overhead
    • Crash-consistent images using NetApp Snapshot™
    • Replication of VMs off site for DR
    • Recovering VMs quickly and easily
  • Open Systems SnapVault
    • Ability to backup a virtual environment from the ESX level
    • Backing up an entire ESX server rather than individual VMs
    • Bare metal recovery
    • Central management via Protection Manager

Featured Technical Reports

  • Exclusive Early Access: Open Systems SnapVault Design and Implementation Guide for Protecting Virtual Infrastructure (PDF). Open Systems SnapVault is NetApp’s solution for remote, disk-to-disk backup for Windows®, Linux®, UNIX®, and other system platforms. Open Systems SnapVault 2.6 now supports VMware, providing a new approach for data protection in virtual environments. This paper discusses design strategies and best practices for Open Systems SnapVault deployment with virtual infrastructures.
  • Making IT Invisible: NetApp Storage for Virtual Server Environments. This Enterprise Strategy Group white paper from Mark Bowker examines the deployment of NetApp storage from a virtual infrastructure perspective. It includes details on current protocol considerations and discusses specific NetApp technologies, such as deduplication, FlexClone®, and DR.
  • NetApp and VMware VI3 Storage Best Practices (PDF). This updated paper discusses best practices for NetApp storage and VMware, including Fibre Channel, iSCSI, and NFS environments; deduplication; thin provisioning; backup; and more.
  • High Availability and Disaster Recovery for VMware Using NetApp SnapMirror and MetroCluster (PDF). This paper discusses VMware disaster recovery in terms of varying levels of desired data protection.
  • NetApp and VMware Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (PDF). This document discusses the virtual storage solutions that reduce cost while increasing storage utilization and administration efficiencies when implementing VMware VDI environments using NetApp technology.
VM WORLD 2008 This feature was a collaborative effort of members of the NetApp technical team who attended and presented at VMworld Europe 2008, including:
  • Darrin Chapman, Product Engineer
  • Adam Fore, Marketing Manager
  • Claude Steinmayer, Product Marketing Manager
  • M. Vaughn Stewart, Virtualization Evangelist